From The Plain Dealer:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has thrown his support behind state auditor candidate Seth Morgan, of the Dayton area.
Arshinkoff’s endorsement was announced Thursday, the same day Morgan’s opponent, Dave Yost, picked up an endorsement by the Republican Party in his home county, Delaware.
But Arshinkoff, an influential GOP leader in Northeast Ohio, said Morgan is the best choice for state auditor because his is a certified public accountant with a fresh face and bold ideas.
“Alex is a longstanding, respected leader within the Republican establishment here in Ohio, and to gain his endorsement is truly exciting for this campaign,” said Morgan, who is a representative in the Ohio House.
Matt Borges, spokesman for Yost, said he believes Arshinkoff decided he would support Morgan before Yost entered the auditor’s race in late January.
I’ve explained how Borges was the guy who was ultimately convicted of the corruption in former Treasurer Joe Deters’ office. Even though his record has since been expunged, For Yost to have someone as tainted as Borges to serve as the voice of his campaign is beyond ridiculous.
But what about Chairman Arshinkoff? I’ve never met the man and have been impressed with how he can win more elections in a county than should be possible. But my first introduction to his name was this Cleveland Scene article from July 2003:
It was past 2 a.m. when the kid left the bar and headed for home. Back from college for Christmas, he’d met up with his high school buddies at Annabell’s, a neighborhood watering hole in Akron. Frustrated for reasons that no longer seem important, the 21-year-old Kent State student had been too annoyed to wait for a ride.
It wasn’t long before he wished he had. It had been a white Christmas. The ground was still blanketed, early that morning of December 27, 2002; the air, frigid. Maybe a stranger would give him a lift.
As the kid would later explain in an interview with Scene, he tried to flag down the first car he spotted, a souped-up Mitsubishi, neon underbelly aglow. It didn’t stop. But when the new Audi behind it did, the kid got in.
The driver was a middle-aged white man. Dark hair, well dressed. He asked the kid how he was doing; the kid said OK, then offered a few dollars for gas. The man said not to worry.
The kid told him to take a right at Main Street. But the man didn’t. I’ll get you home, don’t worry about it, the kid remembers him saying. Then the man started rubbing his thigh. Are you gay? he asked. Are you bi? No? Are you sure?
The kid was trying not to freak out. He saw a red light ahead and clicked open his seatbelt, bracing himself for the jump out. But the light flicked to green.
What are you doing? The man asked. Are you nervous?
The kid said no, he was just trying to get comfortable. The man was caressing his thigh, grabbing at his crotch. “I didn’t want to piss him off,” he says. “He could just hit the gas, and I’d be stuck.”
Do you want to make some money? The man asked. The kid laughed weakly and said he had plenty. He was watching the light ahead, willing it to stay red.
The Audi pulled to a stop, and the kid saw his chance. He took off running. The Audi peeled off in a different direction.
Then the kid heard a siren. An Akron patrolman had witnessed his desperate departure, according to the police report. The cop stopped the car and questioned the driver. The man told him he’d picked the kid up, but he was too drunk and had hopped out.
But the kid, fearing trouble, doubled back to the cop car. Gasping for breath, he relayed his version. The man had tried to touch him, he said. He had to run. “You can arrest me for anything you want right now,” he remembers saying.
The cop took the driver’s information and let him go. Then he told the kid to relax, something like “What are you doing getting into a stranger’s car, anyway?” He offered to take the kid home.
Then a second black-and-white pulled up. The officer gestured at the departing Audi with its ARA 1 vanity plate. “Do you know who that was?” the kid heard him ask. “That was Alex Arshinkoff. He’s the chair of the county Republican Party.”
“My stomach just dropped,” the kid says.
And while to say he political enemies in Summit County is an understatement, there are way too many stories about him regarding ethical, moral, and legal questions to not believe something is odd in the Summit County GOP.
And Arsnikoff has a long history of using the Auditor’s office, dating back to his well-known feud with former Gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro. Petro, as Auditor, refused to call off the auditing of two of Arshinkoff’s close friends. (And later, as Attorney General, Petro did not allow Arshinkoff to name special counsel contracts for Summit County.)
But what I can’t figure out for the life of me is what’s going on in this endorsement. I understand Chairman Arshinkoff almost became the GOP Chairman with George Voinovich’s help, so perhaps he wants to undermine the Ohio GOP and take another run for it?
This endorsement does not fit at all with Seth Morgan’s outsider, TEA party image. Party bosses are often needed to win, but it’s always important for conservatives to be acutely aware as to what goes on behind the scenes.
[This post has been edited, as I think my lazy speculation was wrong.]